Quickly change blend modes in Photoshop

Photoshop blend modes
One of the most frequent things you’ll find yourself doing with layers in your Photoshop document is changing blend modes to something like Multiply (great for shadows) or Overlay. Moving your mouse over to the Layers panel and clicking the blend mode drop-down menu, then scrolling down to your desired blend mode can be tedious… especially when you’re experimenting and don’t know which one you want.

You can quickly change the blend mode of the active layer by changing to a tool that doesn’t already use blend modes. I just hit the V key to switch to the Move tool, or the M key for the Marquee tool. Then simply hold the Shift key down and tap the + or – keys to cycle between the different blend modes.

Get control of your Time Machine backup schedule

TimeMachineEditorI’ve written about this topic a few times in the past, but I recently had the need to stop Time Machine backups from occurring for a period of time, but I didn’t want to completely shut off Time Machine—for fear that I would forget to turn it back on and it would be weeks before I noticed.

There’s an easy way to manage the schedule of Apple’s Time Machine, which by default backs up everything every hour. That’s a bit too often to back things up if you’re not constantly saving loads of data to your drive. Plus Time Machine can soak-up a lot of power and network bandwidth while working if there’s a lot to back up.

TimeMachineEditor (free, donations welcomed) is a fantastic little tool that offers three distinct ways to edit Time Machine’s backup schedule.

TMEditor - Interval setting

TimeMachineEditor – Interval setting


Interval – Allows you to simply set a time interval to have Time Machine back up your files, such as every 3 hours, etc.
TMEditor - calendar interval

TimeMachineEditor – Calendar Interval setting


Calendar Intervals – Allows for a more complex scheduling of backups. As you can see above, you can schedule specific (down to the minute), multiple daily and weekly backup times.
TMEditor - When Inactive setting

TimeMachineEditor – When Inactive setting


When Inactive – Allows Time Machine to back up your files whenever you’re not using it. This is my preferred setting.

No matter which setting you choose, TimeMachineEditor also offers the option to NOT run backups between user-specified times. I have mine set to the middle of the night to morning, since it’s likely nothing new will have been added for quite a while before and after that.

Because this is simply setting some parameters for Apple’s Time Machine app, you can still use Apple’s Time Machine menubar widget to “Back Up Now” and “Enter Time Machine” whenever you wish.

I love this little utility. It’s been around for years and has always worked flawlessly for me.

Advice: When to use Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign

I belong to a lot of design forums and Facebook Groups and the question I see more often than I care to think about is “which app should I use to do X?” Should I design a logo in Photoshop, build an ad in Illustrator or InDesign, etc.

If you’re new in the graphic design field, or just never used Adobe’s Creative Cloud applications, take a look at this 30-minute video from Adobe Evangelist Terry White.

There are always exceptions to every rule, but in general:

  • Photoshop is for photo editing.
  • Illustrator is for logo design & custom illustration.
  • All the pieces should be brought into InDesign for layout and export to Acrobat PDF files.

The ONLY design rule that (in my opinion) has absolutely no exception: Design your logo in Illustrator. You’ll thank me later.

InDesign CC 2017 update + tips

InDesign CC 2017Adobe released an update to InDesign on Friday, and though it’s not a major update, it contain some changes worth noting.

The long-and-short of it for me is: mehhh. The first thing I did was turn on the Use Legacy “New Dialog” in the General tab of the preferences so I can avoid the highly annoying New Document dialog box that cuts off the Margins & Bleed entry areas to make room for giant useless icons for standard documents that used to live in a tidy little drop-down menu.

The new “Spectrum UI” is a huge leap backwards. You used to be able to adjust the brightness of the entire interface with a slider in the prefs; tweaking it just to your liking. Now you have four options: Dark (too dark for me, and too much contrast), Medium Dark (can’t decide if it wants to be dark or light and fails at both), Medium Light (which has no contrast at all and makes the entire interface look like a giant gray box), and Light (which is bright but useable).

I like the “flatter” interface, but it’s nothing to write home about.

Since David Blatner did a whole lot of work writing it up, I’ll point you to his review at InDesignSecrets.

Since you’re heading over to InDesignSecrets, take a look at these tips while you’re there:
Adding Alt Text to Images With Object Export Options
Naming Items in the Layers Panel

It’s nice to see Adobe updating InDesign regularly, but I’m starting to feel a bit neglected with the lack of new features, bug fixes and overall speed increases.

Find the missing font in Adobe InDesign

InDesign font info panel
Most designers know that InDesign offers a find fonts feature to change fonts or locate missing fonts in your document. It’s located in the menubar under Type>Find Font… However most designers never go past the “Replace With” font feature.

The problem is if you have a document with numerous pages and lots of colorful imagery, even when InDesign highlights the missing font (or the one you want to substitute) it can be hard to see.

The simple way to find the pesky hidden font is to hit the More Info button in the Find Font dialog box. The dialog box will expand with a list of font statistics, at the bottom of which will tell you what page(s) the reticular font is on—even if it’s on the pasteboard.

Google JPG is 35% smaller/higher-quality – but you’ll never use it

Google has come up with an algorithm that reduces JPGs by 35%, or maintains existing file sizes but dramatically improves quality. The new JPG is 100% compatible with existing programs and web browsers on all platforms. It’s 100% open-source and compatible with the current JPG standard.

And not a single person will ever use it.

Ok, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch. I’m sure some people at Google will use it. And probably a few geeks who like to tinker, but don’t rely on producing visual graphics for income.

Just because it’s free, or offers the end-user a better user experience, doesn’t mean it’ll actually be popular. Unless Google can convince EVERY LAST IMAGE EDITOR ON THE PLANET to use it by DEFAULT, it’s not going to matter. Google Maps is better than Apple’s iOS Maps. Wanna guess which map app is more popular on the iPhone despite that? Convenience trumps everything.

One has to wonder what the point is. Coming from Google, the angle they take is faster website loading.

I’m sorry, but having a 100kb JPG be reduced by 35% means absolutely nothing. The site is not going to load faster, because a 100kb JPG loads instantly to begin with. Ridding a site of Javascript for tracking and ad-serving is the only thing that’s going to speed up a website (something we know Google is never going to do). Heck, I get emails with 1MB animated GIF images in them that load virtually instantly.

But if Google can convince Adobe to use the algorithm as the default in Photoshop when saving JPGs, I’ll be happy to re-save a ton of old JPGs that are still 30MB in size due to their massive size and PPI settings.